Ions are Stabilized by Spreading the Electric Charge

Chemistry, Physics
[caption id="attachment_23719" align="alignright" width="440"] This image depicts the spreading charge of a nitrate ion. Image by elpot[/caption] Ions are charged atoms or molecules. They may have a plus charge, a minus charge or – rarely – both. Examples of each are the positive sodium ion (Na+1), the negative bisulfate ion (HSO4-1) and the glycine zwitterion (or dipolar ion) (H3N+1‐CH2‐C(O)2-1). Spreading the electric charge will stabilize both positively and negatively-charged ions – but how does this work? Charge and Nature Even as “nature abhors a vacuum,” it likewise abhors a concentrated electric charge – lightning well illustrates this point. Although ordinary table salt exists in water solution as charged ions, those ions are not isolated as the above shorthand symbols would indicate. The ions are stable in water because the charge…
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Jargon: When to Use It and When Not to Use It

Education, People
[caption id="attachment_18089" align="alignright" width="420"] Huh?[/caption] Jargon is essential to many professions. Jargon consists of words and phrases that speed up communication when discussing complex or convoluted ideas. But the silver lining of jargon frequently enshrouds a gray cloud. An Example A chemist speaks to a lab technician about sodium cations. Now most of us know what a sodium atom is, but the word ‘cation’ doesn’t ring a bell. What is a cation? As the last three letters of its name suggest, a cation is an ion. Atoms are electrically neutral. That is, they do not have a net electrical charge. Although they contain positive protons and negative electrons, the total charges are equal. In effect, they cancel each other out. Add an additional electron or subtract one already present and…
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